Quite a great atmosphere
GTA – need we say more? Rockstar's open-world gangster epic, which brings youth protectors to the barricades faster than the speed limit brings a Porsche owner. Started as a paltry top-down ball pit, the series developed over the years into a 3D ball pit with an unspeakable amount of turnover, which satirizes the America of the time in a wonderfully cynical way and holds a mirror up to it. In the case of Vice City, it's an exaggerated version of the Florida metropolis of Miami on the east coast of the U.S. If the man in the white suit and the "Vice" in the name aren't enough of a hint, the game also features numerous allusions to the Miami Vice series. In fact, one of the tracks ("Crockett's Theme" by Jan Hammer) from the series made it into the game.
I don't have to tell you much about the story, because the principle of the GTA games follows the good old American Dream: 'From rags to riches', from nobody to big boss. In Vice City we play Tommy Vercetti, an Italiano gangster from Liberty City (GTA's version of New York), who has to raise money quickly because of a broken deal and who becomes the kingpin of the beach metropolis in the course of the game. Included: numerous pop culture references to movies, series and companies. In keeping with the name of the series, we can steal cars to traverse the game world, which was huge by the standards of the time. Not only does it save time, but it lets us completely immerse ourselves in this version of 80s Miami. Reason: the soundtrack.
The soundtrack of the GTA games, especially of Vice City and its successor San Andreas, is legendary, offering a cross-section of the music of the respective decades with its different radio stations. To make the mix work, the developers – if I recall correctly – enlisted the help of real-life radio hosts and DJs in the process, like Lazlow Jones, who mimes the completely over-the-top host of radio station "V-Rock". Unlike its predecessor GTA III, the Vice City soundtrack plays many well-known songs by artists such as Michael Jackson, Black Sabbath and Toto, which due to my young age have had no small influence on my musical education. A total of 7 different radio stations plus two talk stations with more than 100 tracks let the spirit of the 80s flare up and differ pleasantly. Latin vs. Pop, Funk vs. Hip-Hop, Rock vs. Cuddly music, garnished with wacky hosts and commercials like "Salivex", the foreign spit for the dried out mouth area.
Turning off the radio, on the other hand, quickly reveals how much the music adds to the atmosphere and how annoying monotonous engine noises can be. As a consequence, a radio station was always playing during my playthroughs, and it was mostly Wave 103, the pop station with tracks like "Kids in America" by Kim Wilde, "Atomic" by Blondie and even the German track "99 Luftballons" by Nena. But Vice City had another feature in the form of its own radio station, into which you could feed your own mp3s to listen to in-game. So, in the absence of our own music collection, my brother and I felt challenged to build our own station: Phenomenon FM, with him as host and me as a bubbly squeaky-clean outside reporter, reporting live from many locations in the game world where demonstrations were seemingly always taking place. Admittedly, our concept was expandable, which is why I then uploaded my first albums in San Andreas instead of my own creations, and why I still associate certain songs with moments from this game today. Vice City tracks, such as "Billie Jean" or "Africa", which remind me of the rides along the Vice City beach.
In contrast to other reviews, it is difficult for me to give points to individual tracks or to discuss them separately, because we do not have a narrative weighting. Instead I will now rate the individual radio stations. The nice thing: Even if you haven't played the game, you can listen to the individual radio stations to get a feeling for the time and a 'best of' the 80s for me. Therefore here in a nutshell my treatise about the music stations. Note: I'm leaving out the commercials and DJ announcements – they're funny, but nothing you'll listen to over and over again. For this reason the track numbering shifts. The rating of the individual tracks is purely subjective. Clearly colored by my own experience with the game. You can read more about it in the article The thing with nostalgia.
Rock / Metal
Since I was introduced to bands like Led Zepplin or the Rolling Stones by my father at an early age, many of the tracks here appealed to me, even though some of them are more metal-oriented. I had a lot of fun with songs like "Too Young to Fall in Love" (Mötley Crüe), "I Wanna Rock" (Twisted Sister) or Ozzy Osbourne's "Bark at the Moon", even if the shredding was always a bit too 'hard' for me outside the corresponding missions. Metalheads will now bang their heads in disbelief, but I am a friend of the softer tones – not always, but often ..
Pop / Disco
… Like z. B. At Wave 103: "I Ran (so Far Away) (A Flock of Seagulls), "Obsession" (Animotion) or "Self Control" (Laura Branigan). This was music for me -. Is it still today!
The name already says it: It gets emotional. A rainy street, a look in the mirror, the lonely dance and in addition "Missing You" (John Waite), "Broken Wing" (Mr. Mister) or "Keep on Loving You" (REO Speedwagon); ready is the cheesy heartbreak montage of your favorite tearjerker movie. As a closet romantic, I'm all about the V-Rock-Disciples probably want to beat me up now, or are not so tough guys at all and intonate together with me "Africa" by Toto. My money is on the latter. Because is cool.
Pop / Rock
Sure, pop always goes. It's not called 'popular music' for nothing. That's why I liked to tune in to Hostess 'Toni' during my drives and listen to gems like "Run to You" (Bryan Adams), "Out of Touch" (Hall& Oates) and "Hold the Line" (Toto) despite my lack of English and singing talent. Luckily our game room was stereotypically located in the basement back then. It didn't bother me, after all I wouldn't have been able to play the 16er title otherwise.
Hip-Hop / Electro
Absolutely not my taste, neither then nor now. Whereby the tracks also don't seem to age well when listening to them again. Everything is 'cool', 'ganster' and underlaid with funky scratching. As the expert would say: "Too white for this!"
Soul / Disco / R&B
When I played Vice City Fever mostly skipped, because the funkiness didn't turn me on as much as the tracks of the other stations. They weren't bad because of that, and if you don't have a direct comparison, a few of the tracks are quite audible… For me at least.
I like Latin Jazz, z. B. When I sit in a cocktail bar or listen to a bit of Buena Vista Social Club over breakfast. In GTA it never really appealed to me, because like in Fever 105 was too strong a contrast for me to listen to songs like "Mama Papa Tu" (Mongo Santamaría) or "Mambo Mucho Mambo" (Machito& His Afro Cuban Orchestra) would listen to. Lo siento!